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Dear first-year me

Dear first-year me,

Oh man! Time for university. You never thought that this day would come, and it has crept up on you so quickly. I know you’re nervous for this new chapter in your life, but it’s going to be amazing and filled with so many new experiences that shape who you are. Keep working on breaking out of your shyness. You’ll get better at it with time!

You’re pretty lucky that a lot of your close friends also chose Laurentian. I know your very best friend is leaving, but if that helped lead you to where I am now, it’s so worth figuring out the distance. The friends who truly care make an effort; you’ll see.

Also remember that even though you’re nervous and want to stick as closely as possible to your friends from high school, you’re about to meet people who have more in common with your interests. It’s okay (and natural) for your group of friends to shift. Do not feel guilty. I can safely say that I have met my future bridesmaids during my years at Laurentian.


A person sitting on a wooden structure outside

You might not be proud of how little you explore and try in first year, but university is a big adjustment. It takes you a little longer to get used to the student population and settle into this new environment. Don’t sweat it; you have the next three years of your undergrad to get involved, and boy do you get involved!

Keep writing; Laurentian has so many opportunities like the English Arts Society and the Lambda. I don’t want to spoil everything for you, but you will be published before you turn 20. The Lambda will also bring you one of the best experiences of your life when they send you to Toronto Fashion Week. That’s all I’m going to tell you, but you may want to begin studying Joe Fresh and Martin Lim for the big week!

You also end up acting in the Italian play. I know– you can’t even speak Italian right now! But you will, and the play is so much fun that you take on bigger roles every year. Don’t be nervous, you remember all of your lines once you hit the stage.

Two people acting in a play

Right now you’re probably thinking that you want to become some sort of creative writer, and you are thinking about a degree in English Literature. Don’t hesitate to get your degree in English Rhetoric. You learn so many writing skills, and you’ll absolutely love every film class you take. You’ll also add a second major in Italian. It is one of the best decisions you make, and two of your future best friends are in this same program. Go with your gut. You’ll end up with caring, ridiculously knowledgeable professors, too.

Don’t stress too much about your grades. I know that they tell you to expect your marks to drop– as you should– but you know how much of a neurotic perfectionist you can be. You grades will reflect the time you put into your work, in every class. You know you’re going to do very well because you care. That never changes. P.S. I learn to love writing English essays; weird, right?!

Also– read the books! Please do not expect Wikipedia summaries to carry you through an essay or exam. They’re very detailed, I know, but just trust me.

I don’t regret this (sorry!) but most of the money you try to save gets spent on clothes. Just follow my lead and keep yourself out of all unnecessary debt like VISA bills or cell phone bills. It’s okay to buy another Michael Kors purse, but only when you can afford it. Make smart, investment purchases on items you know you’ll keep for longer than six months or a year, and calculate how much it would cost every time you use it (cost divided by number of times used).

Keep your retail job; it’s really not that bad and you stay friends with a lot of your fellow employees. Don’t wait until third year like I did to open a secondary bank account with no debit card– it saves you quite a few times!

A couple pieces of advice regarding logistics: use the online campus map until you know all of the buildings, or ask other students on campus, and don’t be embarrassed. Everyone was new to the campus at some point. The registrar can be very helpful in figuring out courses, but contact your program department secretary or Chair if you need a student advisor in your program; one of your professors will make time to help you. Always double-check program requirements found online; you have to take summer courses to catch up because of this, but they’re your two favourite classes ever, so don’t worry.

If you met me and knew that I grew out of your obsession with concerts, you’d probably feel betrayed. Oh, and the pink hair. It’s cute, but you’ll get over it pretty quickly. Just know that your interests will change, but it’s a gradual change. By age 21, you may not feel like you have everything figured out (and who would?), but you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been, with wonderful friends, great university experiences, and a crazy love for the fashion industry. You even wear lipstick!

Two people smiling

Oh, and by the way, you’re in love with your best friend. But don’t worry– you’ll figure it out. Never regret your decisions because you do what you think you want, and if something isn’t right, it will turn out in the end. Nothing is ever static. Remember to live and make decisions based on what you want at the time; you hate cliches, but what is meant to happen really just does. Promise.


Fourth-year Lianna